The case for revolutionary reform
November 8, 2017
It has been a surreal year.
On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected president, against all odds. Since that moment, the fabric of American political reality has fallen away. It has been a year that shook every individual’s understanding of the world in a direct and deeply personal way.
It is a moment that has destroyed the standard notions of morality within American politics, and it is an event that must become a rallying point. From the highest political figures to the students of our school, an effort must be made to change the course of our nation’s politics.
There is a tendency, in both reporting and political theory, to cast aspirations upon radicals as reactionary. This is, of course, a legitimate point. All too often, the groups that make up the edges of ideologies are also the groups that make up the fringes of ideologies. Thus, the few who reacted most loudly to, say, the 2008 financial collapse, also represented the few so far away from the standard beliefs of America that they were easily brushed off as radicals.
These criticisms are perfectly fair. It would be absurd to tear down the traditions of American belief in reaction to any single political event.
But there is another type of political shock that seems to be ignored by these anti-radicals: The watershed moment, a revelatory event that tears away the curtain to show the truth. Such is the case for Donald Trump. The current president has not created these flaws in our culture and our politics, he has merely exploited them.
This is, of course, an inherently problematic position to hold, and one that has been abused by virtually every fanatic and tyrant in world history. But it is also a position held by every great reformer.
Radical reform carries a distasteful connotation for many Americans. But these Americans seem perfectly content to allow special interest groups to dictate the funding of our nation’s politics. They seem willing to stand by while the Constitution is gutted by a grossly expanding executive branch. The American people are terrified of losing our nation and it’s values by reacting forcefully, but remain all too willing to watch those same values slowly slip away.
The reaction of many was to call Donald Trump an aberration, a parasite that hijacked the system. That is a false view. Not only did President Trump gain victory through the standard ways and means, he did so as a result of years of societal and political pressures. Decades of America lead up to this point, and to cast it off as a singular event ensures that it will occur again.
Now is the time for an intense personal reckoning. We must each individually evaluate our actions and our beliefs. It is a time for political soul searching.
Those who doubt the need for radical reform need to ask themselves if they are content with the status quo of American politics.
The answer from the majority of the country will be “no”. It is time to consider how we reached this point as a nation and what we can do to correct our course. The time has come to consider sweeping changes to the American political system.
Republicans after Trump
It is 2:45 AM, on November 9th. The television is turned to Fox News. Of course. The chyron reads “Donald Trump elected president.” The 45th president of the United States hands his phone off to a subordinate. On the other line, Hillary Clinton has just conceded the election.
Steve Bannon stands, straightens his shirt, and turns to his boss. “Congratulations Mr. President.”
For some, it was a moment of jubilation. Even those only tangentially connected to the Republican Party seemed to revel in a feeling of relief.
Perhaps it’s a sense of euphoria, perhaps it’s a desperation for victory, but the conservative movement seems to take far too much pride in a narrow victory without asking why the victory was such a trial in the first place.
With Republican popularity soaring, grassroots campaigns appearing across the country, and a string of victories in House and Congressional elections, defeating the least popular candidate in American history should have been an easy task. The politics of Donald Trump ensured that the election was anything but simple.
Our nation has learned a great deal about conservatives since Nov. 8, 2016.
We learned that the Republican party will gladly support an admitted sexual assaulter in the name of protecting family values.
We found that half our nation still stands with the cause of confederates.
We learned that Nazis matter but gays don’t to many Americans. That these people believe journalists are liars, but that our government may operate upon alternative facts.
We learned that the child-like naivete of the punch drunk ‘Real America’ is little more than a frightened cultural specter, cowed by fear and nostalgia into supporting a senile authoritarian.
We have found that the power-hungry Republican Party elites who supported Donald Trump and continue to supply him with a platform will play dead with malignant glee as they sacrifice morality for a moment of power. That the brash and loud ‘patriotic’ Americans who have played dumb for two decades have taken the logical step and turned their party into a brain dead monster stumbling to victory.
We learned that the Republican Party was willing to give itself a lobotomy, and to sell soul of conservatism for their victory.
Conservative Americans must ask themselves if they are content with large state nationalism. They must decide whether they truly support an egotistical New York liberal whose moral beliefs fly in the face of everything they claim to profess.
Conservatives must truly consider if liberal accusations were true. Will they be a party governed by Islamophobia? Will they cede their small government beliefs to frantic attempts to please corporate donors? Are they truly pro-life, or are they content being a fanatical anti-abortion cult? Is their respect for guns constitutional or is it rooted in images of masculinity and a product of NRA fear-mongering?
If Republicans wish to be the party of Trump, so be it. I have but one request; cease operating under the moniker of conservatism. If Republicans are going to operate as nationalists, they should embrace their title. And while they’re at it, perhaps the Statue of Liberty could use renovation. After all, if this is to be the age of Trump, a torch seems far too welcoming an object to display to immigrants. May I suggest instead a burning cross? With the Trumpian bent towards anti-intellectualism, there will be plenty of books for use as kindling.
Republicans have been insistent that they are neither Nazis nor racists. Until this moment in time, I had been inclined to believe them. But now is their chance to prove those words were true. This test of history is one that many conservatives are failing.
Now is a time for Americans to show their true colors. The Republican party has been overrun by racists, fascists, predators and con-men. The 2016 election seemed to show that conservatives were immoral people. If you are not Nazis then why do you stand by their side? If you are not fascists, then why do you support authoritarians? If you love American values, then why do you place party above country?
It will not be easy to run the alt-right out of the Republican Party. But if conservatives truly care about their party as an idealistic force and not merely an institution, they must find the courage to ostracize and cast out far right nationalists and large government authoritarians like Donald Trump.
This is a movement that can only begin from the ground up. Conservatives who wish to reclaim their party must get politically active. If they are not content with the Trump administration, time is of the essence. Grassroots campaigns for possible challengers, vocal criticism of congressmen who bow over for Trump, and willingness to think freely of conservative partisan hacks are the only ways to free the Republican Party from the grip of Donald Trump.
Now, more than ever, conservatives must not abandon intellectualism. The civil war for the soul of the Republican Party will be waged on the battleground of academia. Only through an embrace of information can the party be reclaimed. The party desperately cries out for a new platform, and this new generation of young students can work to rebuild the party from the ground up.
A new era of rational, compassionate conservatism could bring about a renaissance for the Republican Party, and American politics as a whole.
What happens now?
The words were almost overwhelmed by the rapturous applause. The president spoke, for the last time. At the succession of his speech, Barack Obama would leave the political stage. He turned to the braying crowd. “It’s good to be home.”
The election of President Trump, and all that came with it, was a moment of such jarring shock for many Democrats that it fundamentally altered their understanding of America. How, Democrats were left wondering, could this have happened in their country?
It’s time to stop asking ‘what happened?’ and start asking ‘what next?’
The election is over. Hillary Clinton lost. Liberalism did not. The beliefs that leftists have fought for have not disappeared. The America that elected Donald Trump is the same one that elected Barack Obama. More than that, it was an America governed by a Democrat policies for eight years.
It’s time to take a long hard look in the mirror, because the 2016 election was a disaster of virtually unparalleled proportions. Democrats managed to sacrifice their ideals for no political gain. What exactly is the point of moving to the center if you’re losing elections in the process? Democrats seem willing to abandon their base for nothing.
The areas Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump were not Republican strong points. Clinton was the stronger candidate on foreign policy, experience and political talent. Donald Trump won the election on the basis of economics. Think about that for a moment. Democrats lost the midwest working classes to a man with gold plated toilets.
Running against an uber-rich megalomaniac should have been a godsend for the Clinton campaign. Trump was an outrageous caricature of every vice liberals have long accused Republicans of: an anti-intellectual, grossly rich, almost comically offensive racist. Trump represents the absolute height of immorality.
The election is over, but the lessons of it have yet to be learned. It is time for the Democratic Party to move to stop validating the absurd rhetoric of the Republican Party. It is time to confront the reality that Donald Trump will not drop below about 35 percent. These are voters who feel totally abandoned by the Democratic Party. That should not be the case.
Democrats have an opportunity to accomplish something exceptional. Donald Trump is unpopular enough that every state in the union is in play. In the heart of Alabama, Democrat Doug Jones has managed to pull within the margin of error in the latest polls.
Imagine what Democrats could accomplish if they were riding off more than the Republican party’s unpopularity. Apart from Obama, the party has badly failed to motivate voters. A strong Democrat would have a chance of winning with a margin near that of Ronald Reagan.
How can this be achieved? The answer is simple. Republican voters were swung to Donald Trump because he represented an outside force, a self-proclaimed rouge who could take on the corruption of Washington. In other words, he ran on the fundamentals of most Democratic campaigns.
Of course, Trump didn’t mean a word of what he said. Since taking office, his actions have been taken solely to enrich himself and his cronies. Democrats must position themselves as the party of legitimate reform. They must become again the party of hope and change.
A party that promises to overcome the true corruption of Washington D.C. A Democratic Party built upon taking on the powerful corporations and business of America would manage to gain the support of dissatisfied Trump voters while staying true to liberal values.
One obstacle stands in the way of this obvious solution: a party establishment with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo: Democrat Party elites who make massive profits off campaign contributions. Five-term senators terrified to risk their job security on a platform change.
These political hacks must be removed from the party. They do not represent the will of their constituents. The do not represent liberalism.
Those who would maintain the status quo represent a fundamental threat to leftist ideals. Donald Trump has proven that economic might can overwhelm anything. The current class of American aristocrats has become a danger to the nation. They inhibit progress. They viciously disseminate lies in the media. Change will never come when those in power have something to lose.
Unless Democrats can find it within themselves to fight for radical economic change, the only future can be Donald Trump. It will not be simple to wage war against a system obsessed with stagnation. It will not be easy to overcome a political system that has infiltrated and co-opted liberalism like a parasite. But an unwillingness to change is little more than a vote of confidence for the current norm.
The likes of Donald Trump will come again and again now. The door has been opened for every conman with a million dollars to blow. There can only be one solution. Modern-day feudalism is funded by phony business and propped up by a broken system. Democrats must pledge to change that, for the future of their party, of their ideals, and of the country.